Thom Yorke

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About Thom Yorke

Thom Yorke might be the definitive frontman of the turn-of-the-millennium, an artist who managed to transform feelings of collective anxiety into anthems you could—at least now and then—sing along with. Born in 1968 and raised primarily in Oxfordshire, England, Yorke started playing music when he was a child, forming what would become Radiohead while at boarding school in the mid-’80s. (The band was originally called On a Friday—named for the day they used the school’s music room to rehearse.) With his claustrophobic outlook and high, fretful falsetto, he became an unlikely star, an ambassador of alienation. And as Radiohead progressed, he became increasingly adventurous, helping to stretch the vocabulary of rock music to its breaking point, integrating elements of electronic, avant-garde classical, and jazz into a conventional guitar-bass-drums setup. As a lyricist, Yorke—cerebral and reticent, but firmly ambitious—has always been unsettlingly in tune with the dystopian currents of modern life, from the War on Terror (2003’s Hail to the Thief) to the oppressiveness of technology (1997’s OK Computer) to the numb, dislocated feeling one gets when doing something as ordinary as sitting in traffic (2007’s In Rainbows). Yorke’s art has often dovetailed with activism as well, including advocacy for climate change, gun control and nuclear disarmament, as well as endorsements for the Green Party of England and Wales. He released his first solo album, the heavily electronic The Eraser, in 2006; Tomorrow’s Modern Boxes followed in 2014. In 2009, he formed Atoms For Peace, enlisting Flea (Red Hot Chili Peppers), Joey Waronker (Beck, R.E.M.), Mauro Refosco (Forro in the Dark, David Byrne) and longtime Radiohead producer Nigel Godrich. Originally conceived of as a touring band for The Eraser, they ended up releasing an album, Amok, in 2013. Always somewhere in the vicinity of the cutting edge, Yorke has also collaborated with a handful of younger electronic and beat-oriented musicians, including Flying Lotus, Burial, Four Tet and SBTRKT. In 2018, he made his first foray into film work, soundtracking director Luca Guadagnino’s remake of the surrealistic ’70s horror movie Suspiria.

Wellingborough, England
7 October 1968
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